Friends, family bid farewell to AQHA’s past president |

Friends, family bid farewell to AQHA’s past president

Don Burt, his father and grandfather all made a living raising horses. Photo courtesy AQHA

AQHA Past President Don Burt passed away Saturday, Nov. 24. A horseman, leader, visionary and, above all, gentleman were on the short list of words used to describe him when he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2004.

Don grew up in the river bottoms of Burbank, CA, which during the 1930s was a horse-showing capital. He, his father and grandfather all made a living raising horses. During World War II, Don and his friends would ride their horses over the Hollywood Hills to shows, and when he was in high school, he worked at the Marwyck Ranch, which was owned by actress
Barbara Stanwyck and actor Groucho Marx. Don galloped racehorses in the mornings, and worked the show horses in the afternoons.

A training injury later in life led Don to judging and he judged the AQHA World Championship Show seven times, the AQHYA World Championship Show three times, and was named judge of the year for the American Horse Shows Association 10 times. As a judge, he presided over national and world championship shows for many breeds. Don retired from judging when he was elected to the AQHA Executive Committee in 1992. He became AQHA's 46th president in 1996.

For his decades of services to the equestrian industry, Don was awarded the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy in 2007. He was also added to the Honor Roll of Distinguished Officials in 2011. He also received the Equine Industry Vision Award in 2003, and the National Reining Horse Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

“Rarely am I speechless... but this is one of the highlights of my life. I’ve have never ‘worked’ a day ... I’ve just played cowboy all my life.”
Don Burt

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At the time he received the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, Don said: "Rarely am I speechless… but this is one of the highlights of my life. I've have never 'worked' a day … I've just played cowboy all my life.

"I want to say how truly blessed I am, and I have an angel on each shoulder," he said. "My wife really should be getting this award. She is my lifelong friend and partner, and I want her to join me and stand and be recognized."

Most recently, Don wrote a monthly column, "On The Rail," for The American Quarter Horse Journal.

"I had the privilege of visiting Don and wife Ardys a few months back and, as recently as Nov. 17, Don and I reminisced about the many trips and meetings we made together on behalf of AQHA, especially regarding reining and its approval by the International Equestrian Federation," said AQHA Executive Director Don Treadway Jr. "During my visit and even my most recent chat, Don remained his cheerful self even though his physical health had significantly declined."

Condolences may be sent to Ardys and the family at 79 Narcissa Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-5952. Donations may be made to the
American Quarter Horse Foundation, (806) 378-5029, F